What is a paragraph?

Paragraph
Paragraphs are sections of text, used to structure writing to make it clear and easy to read. We explain how the use of paragraphs is taught in KS2 and how you can help your child improve their writing by using paragraphs at home.

What is a paragraph?

A paragraph is a section of writing consisting of one or more sentences grouped together and discussing one main subject.

New paragraphs are either signalled by an indent (where the text starts some way into the line) or by leaving a line blank.

How are paragraphs used?

Paragraphs help to structure text; every new paragraph starts on a new line. We start a new paragraph to signal that the person, place, time or topic of the sentences has changed.

In fiction text, paragraphs are usually used to mark breaks in time. A new paragraph may also be started if the point of view switches from one character to another. 

In a non-fiction text, a paragraph is a group of sentences that usually all have one theme in common.

In primary school texts will often have a five-paragraph structure:

  • Paragraph 1 is an introduction
  • Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 focus on three specific (and different) points
  • Paragraph 5 is a conclusion

When are children taught to use paragraphs?

Children start to use paragraphs in Year 3. This is a skill that can often get forgotten by an enthusiastic child desperate to get all their writing down!

A good way to encourage children to use paragraphs in a story is to introduce this idea at the planning stage. A story map or story mountain with boxes can help children to think about each paragraph before they start writing:

     

A good way to encourage children to use paragraphs when writing a non-fiction text is to give them a spider diagram with sub-headings for making notes on.

A spider diagram encourages children to arrange their notes into separate boxes according to theme. This means that when they come to write their notes up into sentences, they will know that their text needs to be split into four different paragraphs.

Teachers often find that when children write a first draft of their writing they forget to split their writing into paragraphs. This is why writing a first draft is a good idea, as it is a chance to correct and improve the structure of a piece of writing.